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The Helsinki, Finland-based company views itself as a food intelligence company, as its sensor and the accompanying app can help people understand their optimal diet to improve the state of their metabolic health. The idea is to make blood sugar readings as commonplace as heart readings, which are now easily deciphered by smartphones, wearables, and their apps. The Veri app is only available on iOS for now.
The $4 million includes Veri’s pre-seed and seed rounds of funding, led by ProFounders. Other investors include Lifeline Ventures, Accel, and several angel investors, including Johannes Schildt, CEO of Kry/Livi; and Kristian Ranta, CEO of Meru Health. “Veri” means “blood” in Finnish.
The combination of Veri’s app with a wearable blood glucose tracker provides real-time feedback on food choices. The product gives its users deep insights by analyzing personalized blood sugar levels in the context of exercise as well as sleep habits. I’ve tried out Dexcom‘s glucose monitor, which gave me a good idea of the kind of foods and activities that affect my blood sugar levels, but it’s targeted at people who already have severe diabetes symptoms.
With the new funding, the company plans to start shipping its sensor to U.S.-based customers, making the Veri product available for purchase starting this month. Currently, there are over 50,000 people on Veri’s waitlist. A single sensor costs $129, while two sensors cost $199. One sensor lasts two weeks.
You can also subscribe on a monthly basis. For a single sensor, the subscription fee is €89 ($108 U.S.) per month.
Anttoni Aniebonam, the CEO of Veri, said the app falls under Food and Drug Administration’s policy for low-risk devices with its current capabilities.
The food data is captured in-app through images and text. You enter what you ate, and then it correlates the effect on your glucose levels and then gives you a score of 1 to 10. It also integrates sleep and exercise data captured from the iPhone’s health app.
“We started Veri because of our own health issues. Every single one of the founders had experienced something with their health that they were looking to solve, but we all were lacking the right tools to do that,” Aniebonam said, in an email to VentureBeat. “For me, the whole thing clicked when I got injured in my teenage years. I stopped playing football after the injury and had a really hard time balancing my mental and physical health. The difficulties ranged from not being able to control my weight to going to a very dark place in my mental health. I couldn’t figure out ways to make it better and the healthcare system didn’t really cater for the needs that I had — making a lifestyle change, that is.”
Veri is tapping into the crucial need for preventative health approaches. Poor nutrition is the leading cause of premature death, and about 88% of people in the United States are metabolically ill. COVID-19 has drawn further attention to the importance of good metabolic health (to deal with problems such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes). Seventy-one percent of premature deaths globally are due to chronic illnesses and conditions.
Vimal Ramjee, a cardiologist and director of health at Veri, said that the company’s solution is like having a nutritionist at your side 24 hours a day, helping you understand how your food and lifestyle choices affect your personal metabolism in real time. There aren’t many tools that can drive genuine positive lifestyle change like this, said Ramjee, who is also a culinary medicine specialist.
Guillermo Umpierrez, the president-elect of the American Diabetes Association and a scientific advisor for Veri, said in a statement that Veri is an important tool to prevent the growth of pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes.
Timo Ahopelto, the founding partner of Lifeline Ventures, said in a statement that Veri is the missing piece in optimizing your health.
Aniebonam, Verneri Jäämuru, and Frans Lehmusvaara started the company last year. The product is currently available in Europe. Veri has 13 employees with experience at organizations like Nike, Oura, Meru Health, and the University of Pennsylvania.
Veri cofounder Jäämuru suffers from a chronic intestinal disease, Aniebonam said.
“He was bedridden when he was younger because of it, and saw with his own eyes how the U.S. healthcare system didn’t really deliver holistic tools for him. We all believe that health and especially preventive healthcare are holistic — your overall health stems from the way you eat, sleep, and move. But figuring out what to do is hard,” Aniebonam said. “So, we built the product for ourselves and found out during this journey that a lot of people around us had the same problems with their overall health. This also showed us that we didn’t really want to create a new fancy biohacking tool for tech bros, but a down-to-earth way for normal people, from all walks of life, to be able to improve their health with better food choices.”
The founders chose to build the product around glucose levels and food because it’s a very precise and understandable tool to change people’s behavior. It makes your food choices actionable and visual — from the app, you can literally see how your glucose levels respond to different foods you eat. Decreasing the average glucose level (and the wicked after-meal spikes) reduces the risk of chronic diseases and makes you feel more energetic during the day, the company said. Over time, the founders want the app to create more actionable data and enable smarter food choices.
“Product-wise, glucose is the best time-sensitive metric to analyze your metabolic health, so it was really a given that it’s the most obvious thing to focus on when it comes to health,” Aniebonam said.
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